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Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guidelines? #1185881
04/23/09 01:02 PM
04/23/09 01:02 PM
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New Westminster, Canada
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Mike088 Offline OP
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We have a room that is 13.1' x 13.75' in dimension. Is this an appropriate room size for a grand piano? If not, we will choose an upright piano, however I feel, if possible, it would be slightly more beneficial to practice piano technique on a grand piano due to the subtle but significant difference in the action mechanism of a grand and therefore its touch. I feel that with all the time we spend practicing, it may be slightly more valuable to spend this time on a grand piano. Furthermore, my children always mention that when they play at a recital, the piano has a different feel than the one they practice on - I would guess this could be a subtle disadvantage.

I am not sure if this is significant (maybe in terms of acoustics) but I should mention this 13.1' x 13.75' room has hardwood floors (cherry) and the room has virtually no other furniture - I could move the small sofa out. It is a corner room in the house with two windows.

I have two children who are taking the Royal Conservatory piano program (currently grade 5) and I also play (completed grade 10 and might consider the next level (ARCT) and/or maybe teaching.

Of course if we simply do not have the space or appropriate setup/environment we will go with an upright piano but I thought I would ask anyone on this forum if they felt this room size could accommodate a grand piano.

If we decide on a grand, I was considering a smaller grand such as a 5'8" or so. I probably wouldn't be able to accommodate a grand longer than 6'1" due to size and cost and I would like to stay away from anything smaller than 5'5" - I heard they have weak sound. My priority is the touch of the grand action - perhaps equivalent to, or even possibly more important than the quality of the sound (i.e. would a grand at 5'5" have "sufficient" sound quality for our needs? - I will need to consider this). Basically, we need to strike a careful balance between the amount of space we have for the piano, the touch of the piano, the sound quality and of course, the cost. How this balances out will determine if we require a grand piano or an upright.

I've seen some affordable 5'8" grands (example: a new Baldwin made in China) and many affordable used grands not much more in cost than some of the good uprights I was also looking at (ex. I liked some of the Petrof uprights). But I am not sure which direction to go.

We do have another very large room that would be a great location for a grand piano however directly below this room are a couple of bedrooms that we often rent out. Maybe, if we used this location for the piano, we could limit the piano playing times to 8pm or earlier - but that wouldn't be ideal. Or maybe some foam sound baffles to quiet the grand - again I'm not sure of the best solution at this point.

Another issue is that one of my daughters occasionally practices her ballet dances in this 13.1' x 13.75' room because of the hardwood floor and the presence of a grand piano in this room would limit some (or much) of this dance space. But she also loves to play the piano and would appreciate a grand piano but would loose some dance space. Maybe I could put lay down some hardwood floor for her dancing in the very large room I was mentioning earlier.

I am really not sure which direction to take at this point (grand or upright) but I felt the first step would be for me to ask for this advice if the 13.1' x 13.75' room is big enough for a small to medium grand. Is there some industry standard room-size to piano-size ratio that is used as a guideline when selecting the appropriate size of a grand piano for a specific room size?

Thank you for any advice,

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Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guidelines? [Re: Mike088] #1185893
04/23/09 01:32 PM
04/23/09 01:32 PM
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New York City
pianoloverus Offline
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I have a 7' Mason BB in a living room only 12'x18'x8' but the room opens up into a very small dining area and foyer/hallway. Also, I play with the lid down and lid folded back.

How tall is your room?
Does it open up into other rooms or only have a doorway?
Are you willing to play with the lid down(no real problem IMO)?

Your room is only slightly smaller in square feet than mine(and if the ceiling is higher might even be effectively larger). Each case if different, but I can't imagine a 5'8" piano being a problem and even larger might well be possible. A good tech who sees your music room might also be able to help.

You could also ask the dealer about the possibility of returning the grand after a very short time(a week?)if it proves to be too much for the room. I think if you agree to reimburse him for the moving costs many or at least some will agree. Or you can agree to purchase a smaller grand or upright from him.

Putting an area rug underneath the piano is a good way to make it softer since a lot of sound comes out underneath the piano.

One's own individual hearing and taste also plays a part. Some people put gigantic pianos in very small rooms and seem to have no problem.


Last edited by pianoloverus; 04/23/09 01:35 PM.
Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Mike088] #1185953
04/23/09 03:12 PM
04/23/09 03:12 PM
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suds99 Offline
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I can definitely relate. We currently have an upright, and my 10-yr-old is at the point where his teacher felt an upgrade to a grand would help his playing (and he'd probably enjoy piano even more than he currently does). His teacher has a 7' Steinway grand, and my son also plays grands for recitals and competitions. I also play, and while our upright is very nice, I've always wanted a grand.

Our piano teacher found us a great "divorce deal" Kawai GE-30. It is 5'5". We were told not to go any smaller than 5'5". Well, I'm glad it's on the smaller size, as our living room is only 14' x 12'. It does open up to an 11'x 14'4" dining room plus a large foyer on the other side. Our room is also a corner room that is carpeted and has 2 large windows.

The piano will be delivered in a week, and now we are playing "musical furniture." We will take almost everything out of the living room, leaving perhaps a swivel chair and tall chest. We hate to move the couch to another room, but, alas, it's a small price to pay for having a grand! We will most likely keep the top of the grand partially open. The movers said they will help us select the best place in the room (not too many options!) for acoustics and aesthetics. Our 5-yr-old daughter also uses our living room for dancing/tumbling, but she'll just have to find another place for that. Again, a small price to pay for a wonderful grand!

I think you will be fine with a grand in your room. For us, about 5'10" was the largest we'd consider. Good luck with your decision!

Ellen

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: suds99] #1186012
04/23/09 04:33 PM
04/23/09 04:33 PM
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Michigan
DarkGreenChocolate Offline
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There's no such thing as a room that's "too small" for a piano. Check out college practice rooms.

I've got a 5'10" grand in a room that's roughly 11' by 11' (with wood floors, plaster walls, and 9' ceiling). I'd put an even bigger one in there if I could afford it.

If worse comes to worst, you can "tame" the sound a LOT with furniture, rugs, books, etc.

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: DarkGreenChocolate] #1186039
04/23/09 05:45 PM
04/23/09 05:45 PM
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New York City
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Originally Posted by DarkGreenChocolate
There's no such thing as a room that's "too small" for a piano. Check out college practice rooms.

I've got a 5'10" grand in a room that's roughly 11' by 11' (with wood floors, plaster walls, and 9' ceiling). I'd put an even bigger one in there if I could afford it.


But how do the pianos sound in those(I assume you mean very small) practice rooms? I would think the practice rooms you're thinking of were designed that way because of space and cost considerations.

Do many colleges have teaching studios that are as small as their practice rooms? The only teaching studios I've seen are the ones at Mannes, and they are much bigger than my living room.

Do you play your piano with the lid up? Is there only a door leading into your piano room?

As I said in my OP I have heard of people very happy with a room that many would probably consider too small for their piano, but I think my BB would sound terrible in an 11'x11' room (with only a doorway opening).

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: pianoloverus] #1186073
04/23/09 07:11 PM
04/23/09 07:11 PM
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Michigan
DarkGreenChocolate Offline
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Send the BB and I'll return a verdict.

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: DarkGreenChocolate] #1186082
04/23/09 07:28 PM
04/23/09 07:28 PM
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El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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For me, considering what my budget (piano, AND house probably) would likely be when I'm ready to start shopping for a sufficiently large grand... I figure that if I can fit the 280+-cm piano in the room, I would try, even if it means the tail is touching one wall, and I have to open the closet on the other side of the room and sit on the bench in the closet with my back up against the wall (and make sure I don't gain much more weight - anything more than a 38-40" (and I'm somewhat smaller than that) waist/hip/whatever and I won't be able to fit between the wall and the piano's keyboard). Chances are with my budget, if I would try to get a nice grand piano, what I basically described would be all I'd be able to afford in a house, if I would also budget for even a halfway decent entry-level baby grand piano (minimum # of keys 97, minimum overall length 10') like the Rubenstein R-371. :|
[Linked Image]
Any smaller than about 9' or so, though, and I'd be looking at uprights. (This takes into account, among other factors, string length, soundboard area, etc, and includes the tall uprights from the early 1900s that are no longer being made, which, IMO, if rebuilt, could sound as good as a 7 to 8 foot grand. (I used to have one that, despite worn hammers, ran circles (in the bass) around the new Steingraeber 138s I played.)) Also for me if it's grand vs upright, I'd want the grand to be a significant improvement over the tall upright, preferably at least as much so as the "tier 1" tall upright in mint condition would be over a "tier 6-7 or so" spinet in terrible condition.


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Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer] #1186083
04/23/09 07:32 PM
04/23/09 07:32 PM
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Minnesota
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LOL - When did Jansen introduce the lovely artist throne?


Marty in Minnesota
Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Marty in Minnesota] #1186086
04/23/09 07:35 PM
04/23/09 07:35 PM
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El Cajon, CA
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Well, when your total budget is only, say, $120,000 (shave a couple 0s off that to get what would currently be my best-case scenario budget), INCLUDING the house (and renting an apartment is not an option because you want to be able to pound out Liszt, Rachmaninoff, etc at 1-3 A.M.), AND you live in/near San Diego or Los Angeles, CA... how else will you get a decent, by everyone else's standards, concert-sized instrument? (By my standards, I would call the piano that the young man in NZ built a concert grand.)

Marty, ya like mah pyannehr bench? laugh wink


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1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
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Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer] #1186186
04/23/09 10:47 PM
04/23/09 10:47 PM
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New Westminster, Canada
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Mike088 Offline OP
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Thank you everyone for all these helpful ideas and suggestions. I will have to take some time to consider them carefully. For now I will answer a few quick questions:

(Pianoloverus, I really appreciate all the points you mention.)

The room that is in question for the grand (the 13.1' x 13.75' room) has an 8 foot ceiling height. It also has two openings: one with a fancy glass door that connects to the kitchen and the other is the opening to the main hallway (without a door) near the front entrance of the house - so there is a greater feeling of space due to having two openings.

And I don't mind playing with the lid down if that is what is suggested for a grand in a small room.

From all these responses I am still not certain what type of piano might be most suitable but it would appear to me that the size of the room is not as mandatory as I thought it was. There doesn't seem to be any hard rules about this. Of course the bigger the room the better but generally I have the feeling a grand about 5'5" (minimum) - 5'10" (maximum) might be acceptable for this room size and a better choice than an upright given our situation and musical requirements. Depending on my budget this is what I will start to look for - as I further consider this issue. I am still not ruling out the upright due to the other factors too mentioned - such as space for dancing. Might have to have the dancers dance in our other larger room as mentioned earlier and keep this more as a music room.

The other point I should mention is that my wife is a flute player and I also have a third child who has been playing the violin now for two years and this is our music room we all use together. With all these musicians and instruments in our family we have the potential to have a small family orchestra and I am not sure if having a grand piano in this room would be an asset or a liability to such musical ensembles. Would it sound better or worse? i.e. would the grand overpower the other instruments? or would it support them better? At least I will definitely put down a rug under the piano as Pianoloverus suggested - good idea.

My feeling however is that the grand is the way to go for the main benefit of being able to offer our children the ability to work on their piano technique on a grand piano action - and this might be the most important factor.

Still somewhat undecided. After making any decision, if I remember, I will try to post back the results of this decision to share with those reading this thread...

Thank you so much again,

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Mike088] #1186189
04/23/09 10:51 PM
04/23/09 10:51 PM
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I would like to point out that while you can make a grand work in a surprisingly small space, grands really, really benefit from having a bit of space around them so the sound can "bloom".


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Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Horowitzian] #1186210
04/23/09 11:52 PM
04/23/09 11:52 PM
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I can relate to your situation. You have a tough decision to make with all of those factors. My situations is somewhat similar. I just got my grand and ended up with a larger piano that I expected. It is 6' 10 and replacing a large upright. My room is 14.5 by 20' also with hardwood floors, one wall is brick and the curtains are sheers. So it is a very bright room. I have longed for a grand because of the action that you speak of. My upright had great sound but it did not overpower the room. Now I am concerned about too much power and will look to soften the room to absorb the sound. I thought 5' 10" was the minimum I wanted. I agee with what Horowitzian said. You can have too much piano for your room if you go too big. However, if you find a great deal or a piano you really love and can afford, the other factors can get can shoved under the rug. Good luck!

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: chuck2u] #1186261
04/24/09 02:43 AM
04/24/09 02:43 AM
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Chris H. Offline
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Why not put a bigger grand in the bigger room and also have an upright in the small room to be used when you don't want to disturb people in the bedrooms below?

I kept a 5'10 grand in my music room for a few years but sold it recently because it was too overpowering. I have an L shaped room which is a converted garage and the acoustics are not good. In hindsight I wish I had thought about it more in advance. Talking to the dealer is a great idea. You simply will not know until you get the piano in the room. If they were willing to let you try it out then that would be ideal. I imagine that a lot of dealers would work with you on this as long as you made it clear that you would be buying a piano from them.


Pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Chris H.] #1186275
04/24/09 03:54 AM
04/24/09 03:54 AM
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Chris - that's a great suggestion. In fact, that's what we decided to do. We moved our old upright to the back of the house into a guest room and the new piano will go in the large room up front. That way, if people are sleeping, practicing in the guest room won't bother them... Unless, of course, there's a guest! laugh

One thing the OP hasn't said: how long are they planning to be in this house. If this house is it, then more concern for fitting is warranted. But if they could be moving, then they should get the piano of their dreams now and, when they move, make sure there's a good room in the new house.

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: willisbeatwilt] #1186314
04/24/09 06:57 AM
04/24/09 06:57 AM
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SeilerFan Offline
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Cost should be your only limiting factor in terms of piano size. I comfortably fitted an 8 foot grand in a room that was only marginally larger than yours. Often, people are unduly concerned about piano size vs. room size. Most people could comfortably accommodate a 9 footer in their living room. In most cases, if you can place a 5'6'', you'll easily be able to place a 7' grand.

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: SeilerFan] #1186333
04/24/09 07:55 AM
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We have a 5'10" piano in a 14'x14' room. I takes about 1/3 of the room space. The room is U shaped with 2 walls of windows and carpeted. When we play, we like the sound with the lid fully open since it doesn't overpower the room.


Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: SeilerFan] #1186401
04/24/09 09:40 AM
04/24/09 09:40 AM
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pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted by SeilerFan
Cost should be your only limiting factor in terms of piano size. I comfortably fitted an 8 foot grand in a room that was only marginally larger than yours. Often, people are unduly concerned about piano size vs. room size.


Was the room completely closed off except for a 3' doorway?

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Mike088] #1186419
04/24/09 10:21 AM
04/24/09 10:21 AM
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Houston, TX
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tjbsb Offline
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My 5'10" grand lives in a 10' by 11' bedroom with 11' ceilings that was converted to a music room. Works well with acoustic panels on the wall, a rug covering 70% of the floor and some bass traps in the corners.

Then again, it is not the best for enjoing music with friends and family. There is not much room to gather around the piano.

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: tjbsb] #1186558
04/24/09 01:54 PM
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New Westminster, Canada
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Mike088 Offline OP
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I am very grateful to all who responded to this post and must add a few responses. My first thought is that maybe I should seriously consider Chris H's insite that maybe the grand should be placed in the larger living room (the room that is above the bedrooms we often rent out). Then when we could use the smaller music room with the older vertical piano for those later times when we do not want to disturb these people in these bedrooms. That might be the best solution. However I will still consider the grand in the smaller room.

Now this might seem extreme, but because this piano location decision has been fairly complicated I think I will build a cardboard replica of a 5'10" grand and try it in various places in the house. This may sound crazy but it should only take a few hours and a lot of cardboard. I can fold the legs from corrugated cardboard and cut out the distinctive curved rim and base and glue it all together. This way I will be able to have an exact feel for how it might use the room space. I've already collected all the cardboard I will need. If I remember I will try to send a photo of this.

In summary, thank you once again for all these helpful comments of which I have responded to each as follows:


Chuck
There was something about your post, the tone of your post that helped me re-focus my thoughts. Really appreciate your paragraph.


Thanks Chris H.
"Why not put a bigger grand in the bigger room and also have an upright in the small room to be used when you don't want to disturb people in the bedrooms below?"
This may be the best solution. Sometimes all it takes is to bounce a few ideas around with the help of the people on this forum to help make wise decisions.

willisbeatwilt
I should mention we just bought this house in New Westminster and plan to be here for a very long time. It was our third, and hopefully final, move. Its a newly renovated large house (3400 square feet!) - but with an interesting somewhat fractured room arrangement. For situating a piano it has excellent potential. Just have to find the best arrangement which, as Chris said, may be to put a grand in the large room and keep our older piano in the smaller music room. Still contemplating.

SeilerFan
I agree. Cost should be the only factor given this room size (13.1' x 13.75') (which is not ideal but likely sufficient). Because of our tight budget I think 5'10" may be the magic number - but it also may depend on what size I might find in the used market. I'll aim for 5'5" - 5'10" but lean toward 5'10". Yes, 6' or more would be ideal but may be beyond our budget. Still deciding.

beocop and tjbsb
Thanks for mentioning your room sizes for your 5'10" grand pianos. Very helpful.

Mike

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Mike088] #1186560
04/24/09 01:58 PM
04/24/09 01:58 PM
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New Westminster, Canada
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Mike088 Offline OP
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PS I should mention that our old piano we currently have in our music room is actually a digital Roland HP1500. We intend to keep it for quiet time late night practicing. Its one of the better digital piano experiences - closer to an acoustic than most of these digital pianos - but still definitely not an acoustic.

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Mike088] #1186762
04/24/09 07:50 PM
04/24/09 07:50 PM
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Michigan
DarkGreenChocolate Offline
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I respect what people are saying about room size; acoustics do matter. But for me this became a question of piano vs. house; since I may never live in a house with bigger rooms, I'd either have to get the piano I wanted and deal with possible architectural conflicts, or never get the piano I wanted. Most people seem to agree that grands much under six feet tend to be markedly inferior, but also that rooms much smaller than a certain (fairly large) size will wreak acoustic havoc. For those of us who don't live in fairly large houses, this presents a rather serious conflict.

For me bigger pianos are notably different not so much for volume as for color and nuance, so that "taming" a big one works much better than "enhancing" a small one.

Let's not forget that Horowitz had a concert grand in a NY apartment. Also, rugs, books, tapestries, even specialized acoustic foam, are a lot cheaper than a bigger house.

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: DarkGreenChocolate] #1186770
04/24/09 08:01 PM
04/24/09 08:01 PM
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I agree with what you say DGC. thumb

Only one minor detail. grin H. lived in a townhouse, not an apartment. smile But as you say he fit a concert grand into it.

Bigger is better, as wallet and reasonable minimum room dimensions allow. Obviously, no one wants it packed in so tight the bench is against the wall. laugh


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Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: DarkGreenChocolate] #1186937
04/25/09 02:25 AM
04/25/09 02:25 AM
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pianoloverus Offline
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pianoloverus  Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 24,082
New York City
Originally Posted by DarkGreenChocolate
Let's not forget that Horowitz had a concert grand in a NY apartment.


His living(piano)room was bigger than many NYC apartments and had very high ceilings. I think, based on the videos I can remember, he also played with the lid down and lid hinge folded back.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 04/25/09 06:41 AM.
Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: pianoloverus] #1187102
04/25/09 11:24 AM
04/25/09 11:24 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 8,453
Horowitzian Offline
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Horowitzian  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 8,453
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by DarkGreenChocolate
Let's not forget that Horowitz had a concert grand in a NY apartment.


His living(piano)room was bigger than many NYC apartments and had very high ceilings. I think, based on the videos I can remember, he also played with the lid down and lid hinge folded back.


That's correct. It was also on the second floor, meaning that piano had to be moved out the window with a crane.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: DarkGreenChocolate] #1187199
04/25/09 01:22 PM
04/25/09 01:22 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 384
Boston
L
Larry B Offline
Full Member
Larry B  Offline
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L

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 384
Boston
Originally Posted by DarkGreenChocolate
I respect what people are saying about room size; acoustics do matter.

For me bigger pianos are notably different not so much for volume as for color and nuance, so that "taming" a big one works much better than "enhancing" a small one.

Also, rugs, books, tapestries, even specialized acoustic foam, are a lot cheaper than a bigger house.


This is absolutely right. I have a fairly large room (18x24 with vaulted ceilings) and few soft surfaces, and my 6'3" Baldwin was "too big" for the space. What was needed was acoustic treatments on the walls and ceiling to absorb some of the sound, and that made a huge difference. In a very small room, you may need to treat as much as 50% of the room's surfaces, but it can be done with good aesthetics.

The tone of your piano matters, too. I've since replaced the Baldwin with a 6'10" Steinway, which is even "quieter" in the room than the Baldwin was. The difference in tone and touch makes it sound less overpowering than the smaller Baldwin.

Re: Minimum room size for a grand piano. Guideline [Re: Larry B] #1187908
04/26/09 07:16 PM
04/26/09 07:16 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 148
Auckland, NZ
Maestro Ng Offline
Full Member
Maestro Ng  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 148
Auckland, NZ
I have a Schimmel K189 piano, and the room for it isn't very big. Despite having fairly thick carpet, the sound that comes out can be quite devastatingly loud. But then it might just be my piano.

Most under 7 foot grand pianos can look quite short/small, but in fact, the area that it takes up is HUGE. So take that into account.

Also, it depends what you want to use your room for. If it's for a studio, than it's ok, but for anything else, I would stick with an upright. For me, I think a grand piano should never dominate more than, let's say, a third of the room's size. If it does, then I suggest you either find a bigger room, or don't get a grand at all.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/maestro_ng/

Proud owner of a Schimmel K 189T and a Challen 130.

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